We, the members of the Community Law Enforcement Action Response (CLEAR) Partners, lament the tragic deaths of 13-year-old Hispanic American boy Adam Toledo on March 29 in Chicago, and 20-year old African American, Daunte Demetrius Wright, on April 11, 2021 in Brooklyn Center Minnesota.
The cases are under investigation therefore we cannot state that these young men would have still been alive had they been European Americans. What we do know is that we as communities around the nation must do our part to find solutions to stop these tragedies.
In the case of Wright, what is known is that he was fatally shot by police officer Kimberly Ann Potter during a traffic stop. According to the police, Potter meant to use her taser but accidentally grabbed her gun instead.
Subsequently, she and Police Chief Tim Gannon resigned and Potter has been charged with manslaughter in the killing. Adam Toledo’s death occurred after police pursued him down an alley while responding to reports of shots being fired in the area. Police officer Eric Stillman’s actions are under investigation. In our effort to ensure that such tragedies do not occur in our community, we contacted Brookings Chief of Police Dave Erickson regarding the Daunte Wright case.
He stated, “Included in our policy governing tasers is the requirement for officers to be trained in the use of the taser and to recertify on an annual basis. It also states that the taser is to be carried on the officer’s person and that it is to be carried on the officer’s non-dominant side (opposite of his/her firearm). This is in order to prevent officers from having the same muscle memory for drawing their firearm as they have for drawing their taser.
“As with any tragic situation such as with Mr. Wright, as a department we learn the facts of the incident and examine our practices to see if there is a need for focused training or policy considerations. At this point we have had some initial conversations and will continue to consider and research what if anything there is that we can do to help prepare our officers so that a similar incident does not occur here in Brookings.”
CLEAR Partners, whose mission is to “support community-focused policing through increasing communication between civilian and law enforcement,” will continue our collaborative efforts to develop community-friendly policing.
We applaud the de-escalation training that the Brookings Police Department has in place, and we will work with BPD to include training that can be shared with the community to increase the effectiveness of all community law enforcement interactions.